CAPTAIN LEADS THE WAY
By Kerry Gwydir
Alexei Yashin had a goal and an assist to the lead the Islanders into the Olympic Break with a 2-1 victory over the New Jersey Devils on Saturday afternoon at the Continental Airlines Arena.
Much of the first two periods were been controlled by the Islanders, who started this game off with the intensity that was lacking in Philadelphia on Wednesday night in a 5-2 defeat. The battled for loose pucks, forced turnovers deep in the New Jersey zone and pressured Devil's netminder into making quality stops.
An early scrap between the Isles' Arron Asham and New Jersey's Cam Janssen highlighted the intensity these two teams displayed throughout this tilt. And, following Brad Shaw's squad's early thwarting of a New Jersey powerplay with Brad Lukowich in the box, his team generated the best scoring chance of the early going off the forecheck.
Shawn Bates and Jason Blake forced New Jersey defenseman Paul Martin to give up the puck to the left of the Devils net six minutes into the contest. That enabled Mark Parrish to follow up and test Martin Brodeur from in-tight range, with the Team Canada Olympic goaltender equal to the task.
The Isles carried the play from that point and were handed a 5-on-3 powerplay for 1:15 when Brian Rafalski and Jay Pandolfo were shipped to the penalty box. With five forwards on the ice and Mike York and Miro Satan running the points, Blake converted an across-the-crease feed from Yashin with 7:20 left in the first. It was Blake's 21st tally of the season while York earned the second helper.
However, New Jersey's Sergei Brylin evened the score with 20.7 ticks left in the opener as he sent a shot through a screen just after the Isles killed off a penalty to Brent Sopel. On the play, New Jersey's Grant Marshall drew two Isles to him in the slot, then fed Brylin for a one-timer that beat Rick DiPietro through a screen.
After a back-and-forth start to the second period, Yashin ended a seven-game goal-scoring drought as he put the Isles back on top with 9:43 to go in the stanza. The Islander captain followed up a shot-block by Rafalski at the left faceoff dot and placed it just inside the right post. It was Yashin's 18th of the season with Oleg Kvasha and Radek Martinek notching the helpers.
Looking for the equalizer, the hosts threw plenty of rubber DiPietro's way in the first 10 minutes of the third period. One of his best stops came eight minutes in when he managed to get his shoulder on a Pandolfo try from seven feet out that came through a screen.
With 8:22 left in regulation, the Isles received their second 5-on-3 with Colin White and Jamie Langenbrunner in the box for 50 seconds. This time, however, the Devils extinguished that Islanders' chance and then saw the rest of it negated when Yashin was tagged for interfering with Brodeur at the 12:37 mark.
DOWN ON THE BRIDGE:
The Bridgeport Sound Tigers beat the Lowell Lock Monsters, 7-4, Friday to up their record against the Lock Monsters to 4-0 at home and 7-0 overall this season. The Sound Tigers also went three games over the .500 mark for the first time this season at 25-22-3-2. Sean Bergenheim was the first star with two goals and an assist, Jeff Hamilton the second and Steve Regier the third both with one goal and two assists.
(12) Oleg Kvasha-(79) Alexei Yashin-(21) Robert Nilsson
(81) Miroslav Satan-(16) Mike York-(7) Trent Hunter
(55) Jason Blake-(17) Shawn Bates-(37) Mark Parrish
(11) Mattias Weinhandl-(28) Wyatt Smith-(45) Arron Asham
(4) Joel Bouchard-(25) Brad Lukowich
(44) John Erskine-(3) Brent Sopel
(14) Chris Campoli-(24) Radek Martinek
(39) Rick DiPietro
(30) Garth Snow
(26) Patrik Elias-(23) Scott Gomez-(14) Brian Gionta
(20) Jay Pandolfo-(11) John Madden-(15) Jamie Langenbrunner
(9) Zach Parise-(18) Sergei Brylin-(29) Grant Marshall
(19) Jason Ryznar-(22) Viktor Kozlov-(25) Cam Janssen
(24) Richard Matvichuk-(28) Brian Rafalski
(5) Colin White-(7) Paul Martin
(2) David Hale-(6) Tommy Albelin
(30) Martin Brodeur
(40) Scott Clemmensen